21st Century Theory: Literature, Culture, Criticism

In 21st Century Theory, we will build upon the general introduction to critical and cultural theory given in The Theory and Practice of Criticism by focusing on one specific theme in contemporary theory: biopolitics. To explore biopolitics – or the politics of life itself – we will examine a selection of classic theoretical works by Michel Foucault, Georgio Agamben and others and then read them alongside some key literary and filmic texts from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go to the Batman Trilogy. This module will seek to address the following questions. What exactly is biopolitics? How have theorists, novelists and film-makers imagined such concepts as sovereign power, bare life, the state of exception and so on? To what extent might it be possible to resist the biopolitical hold over our political imaginary?